The balance between deal sourcing and diligence are extremely important in the space. Bill Maris, the founder of GV, wrote in an article in 2015 about why the company decided to pass on Theranos, a unicorn healthcare company that turned out to be a scam . From The Machine model, I’m sure Theranos was flagged as a “go” due to its industry and funding profile. The important thing is to not solely rely on the data of this model for due diligence. By sending in experts in the field, GV was able to pass on the investment and save millions of dollars in losses. The combination of human and machine-powered tasks in the venture world lead to the best outcomes rather than simply one or the other.
I personally think consumers will have no problem buying 3D printed rings. As the technology evolves, these rings will be indistinguishable from traditionally manufactured ones. The interesting conversation here is the future of growing synthetic diamonds to adorn these printed rings. Recently, Lockheed Martin filed a patent for a 3D printer for synthetic diamond . Although this will surely be used for industrial purposes, as the synthetic diamond space grows I’m interested in the consumer reaction to these products. Would you want to buy a lab-grown diamond for your fiance? Would you want to receive a 3D printed diamond on your engagement ring? I personally believe that the marketing power of the big diamond companies will prevent these “fake diamonds” from gaining too much momentum but I sincerely hope that societal pressure moves the industry more towards that space.
Great topic choice! 🙂
While I obviously have quite a few opinions here, I’ll constrain my comment to two things:
1.) I love the short-term suggestions given here. DoorDash has carved out a niche in an otherwise crowded competitive space by focusing relentlessly on the merchant. Without these largely SMB partnerships, the marketplace holds no inherent value for the consumer. I’d suggest that the majority of capital recently invested in the company should be used to expand to new areas and sign the best restaurants in the world. When going into new markets, it is absolutely imperative that DoorDash prioritizes its sales efforts to the best possible restaurant partners. This effort requires significant predictive analytics and could make use of machine learning models to leverage third party data such as Yelp, Foursquare, population data, etc. with the goal of selling the best merchants in a new, unknown area. Using merchant intelligence tools would also allow DoorDash to sign these merchants at higher commissions and at a faster pace. In the end, using ML to help the merchants inherently trickles down into helping the DoorDash marketplace and could actually lead to another revenue stream for the company.
2.) I’m much less bullish on robots as a long-term strategy. The gig economy is going to continue to grow with the rise of more automation in the workplace, giving DoorDash and other IC-focused companies a large pool of on-demand workers. Uber is able to supply their significant rider demand with drivers and I believe companies like DoorDash will be able to scale their driver base alongside. In fact, many gig economy workers multi-platform so each incremental worker can add capacity to each company at some level. Food delivery is such a time and labor intensive process, robots just don’t increase efficiency enough to be worth it. At peak dinner rush, the Cheesecake Factory would have 50 robots waiting in line. If anything goes wrong, the order is hopeless as the robot doesn’t have the emotional of intellectual ability to triage the issue. Robots are phenomenal for drumming up press though!
There is no question that 3D printing will lead to significant innovation in the space industry. The biggest concern I have however, stems from one sentence in your article.
“This will be an unmanned mission that will use 3D printers to manufacture prototypes and structures on the moon using moon dust.”
Printing new parts in space is truly something out of science fiction and I believe it will be the only way to successfully manufacture in the interim period between exploration and colonization of a new planet or moon. The biggest issue however, is the significant weight and therefore cost of carrying the raw material input to the process. To 3D print a metal part, the metal input material still must be launched into space, adding weight to the spacecraft. Unless companies can use existing space material such a moon dust or material from metallic asteroid, the marginal benefit of 3D printing in space will be much lower. If I were ISRO, I’d spend my money on funding research into novel inputs into the process using existing natural resources from space.
Something not mentioned in the article is the possibility of monetary incentives for open innovation participation. Interest in NASA and space, although increasing in the last decade, is still at a much lower level than in the Apollo decades. By incentivizing more participation through prize-backed projects on platforms like Kaggle, NASA could drum up significant press and more interest in the space in general. This could also have non-R&D benefits, such as hiring better STEM talent.
Additionally, partnering with universities is another interesting angle in the open innovation space. In the first exhibit, I noticed the Harvard crest and was curious how the research community on campus was involved in NASA’s programs. If NASA co-sponsors research positions or initiatives, this could be another cost-effective way to obtain the best research in the country without having to hire the talent directly.
While I find the Ideas project very interesting, it seems to be a bit more of a marketing tool than a successful open innovation platform. Launching only 23 products in the 11 years signifies an extremely slow process and constitutes a small chunk of the many products LEGO launches per year. Also, are there any copyright protections for contributors that have significant traction but are not selected? If not, LEGO could be setting the 10,000 likes goal higher than is required so they can actually produce a similar design without paying the 1% royalty. With these numbers, I absolutely agree that focusing on free, digital content is the best way to make this a truly collaborative effort. Building an online community of builders with open-source designs would be much better than giving 23 people (or less) some monetary incentive.
Although I do believe music follows the laws of evolution, it seems that the fundamentals of western music have persevered over centuries of new “styles”. As an extreme example, popular mumble rap artists like Lil’ Pump and Migos often use triplets to change up the flow of a song. Mozart and Bach also commonly used the triplet to convey the same end goal in their concertos. Since there are many common building blocks to western music regardless of time, I believe that machine learning is in a particular interesting spot to become a natural tool for artists. By leveraging crowd-sourced ontologies paired with listener’s opinions of existing pieces, the evolutionary process would be more data-driven and lead to even better outcomes.